Our little one just hit the nine month mark. HOW did this happen? Time has flown and I cannot believe she is so grown up already! Any week now she will be walking. She has teeth coming in constantly. She is on the move.....get out of her way!

I have to be honest....while I love watching her grow, explore, and discover the world around her, part of me mourns the loss of those days when she was cuddly, tiny, and well.....immobile! I could put her down in one spot and know she wasn't going to go anywhere or get into trouble. I could take her into Eucharistic Adoration with us and she would coo and sleep and snuggle the whole hour! Going to Mass was a breeze! Now, about 20 minutes in she's pushing and pulling for me to let her down so she can crawl through the mysterious tunnels under the pews and between the jungle of parishioners' legs. She wants to play on the hymn books like they're drums or she screams when I don't let her chew on the tithing envelopes.

On a daily basis, the tasks that were once super simple are getting to be much harder. She has outgrown her "click 'n go" system, so I can't strap her into her carseat carrier and move her seamlessly from the car to her stroller. Now, I have to completely take her out and either carry her or put her into an actual stroller. "Running" into the store takes longer. Going to a doctor appointment is more difficult because she is now wanting to crawl all over the floor, tear up the tissue paper on the table, eat the cotton swabs, etc. Am I complaining? No-I am SO grateful for this gift of motherhood! These are just my observations of this awesome adventure! This experience is helping me to understand how much of an adjustment it is for new moms through the first year. It also makes me appreciate and admire the moms who tackle the day-to-day with multiple kids! How DO you do it?!

My husband and I are completely open to as many children as God wants to give us, but I cannot help but wonder.... as a stay-at-home mom, will I be capable of juggling multiple children at different stages of development? While pondering this question, my gut tells me, "Absolutely. OF COURSE you can! Helllooooooooo Phillippians 4:13?! You are not in this alone, sister!" But as I dig even deeper into reflection, I think about all of those small (but HUGE) moments when a complete stranger has stepped up and opened the door for me when I was having trouble getting the stroller through; when a stranger in our pew at Mass started making goofy faces at our baby to distract her while she was crying; when a family member or friend graciously gave or let us borrow a super helpful baby item when they know my husband and I are agressively trying to save money and get out of student debt; or when someone in an online mom group took time out of their day to research and answer a question I had about breastfeeding! 

While we struggle to stay above water in our overwhelmed minds and think, "HOW am I going to get through today, tomorrow, or when she starts walking?!", we have to remember that it really does take a village and we aren't in this alone. The other day, I was visiting a fellow momma friend of mine and, no sooner had I come through the door with my little one and she offers me HOMEMADE COOKIE DOUGH/CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES. WHAT?! These little things are like God filling our lungs with fresh air and giving us a little rush of adrenaline. Moms, He loves you so much that He is constantly finding little ways to spoil you and push you through your hard days. That sunrise you're admiring on your way to drop off your child at daycare at way-too-early-o'clock in the morning? He is written ALL OVER that! The extra few minutes that allow you to finish your meal or drink your cup of coffee while they're still hot while baby sleeps? Yep. God.

Whether you're a working mom, a stay-at-home mom, a fostering and/or adoptive mom, a single mom, a frustrated and sleep-deprived mom.... He's right there with you and sending you His strength through small acts of kindness from others or little moments of bliss in the midst of our crazy days (and nights!). Take a step back, look around you, and know that He is there. If it's really hard for you to see Him in the day-to-day, don't be afraid to reach out! Your fellow moms believe in you and we are here for you! 

Here are some ways to build your "village" and help you on this incredible and oftentimes crazy adventure!

1. Become active and involved in your parish. Seek out mom groups, playdates, women's prayer groups or Bible studies. Become part of a "village" that helps other moms and may in-turn offer you support when you need it!

2. Volunteer with a local pro-life or crisis pregnancy center that really helps women who are in need.

Not only are you participating in an INCREDIBLE act of mercy, but serving other moms will give you so much perspective and makes you so grateful for what you have. It also helps you channel any negative thoughts into doing something good for another. AND you are channeling Him through your own hands and feet and becoming a support network and village for other moms!

3. Join a facebook/online Catholic mom group.

Most major US cities have a Catholic mom group on facebook. I've been a part of one for a while now and I cannot tell you enough what an amazing and valuable resource it has been! So many moms have tons of helpful wisdom and information to share and you can tap into it from the privacy and comfort of your own home! Not to mention, it's a huge comfort to know there are moms out there rooting for you and praying for you, too!

4. Follow a handfull of quality mom blogs.

Some of the blogs I follow have been great resources in teaching me ways to balance my new life as a mom, how to be thrifty, parenting skills and tricks, etc. A few of my favorites are: Carrots for Michaelmas, Whole Parenting Family, A Knotted Life, Under Thy Roof, Now One Foot, and Mercy in the Mess. These moms are warriors and are so generous with their honesty, wisdom, and encouragement.

5. Reach out!

Mommas, the devil is all too aware of the power of motherhood and he is constantly trying to break it down. That insecurity you're feeling? That voice that tells you not to reach out for help because people will think you are a bad mom? That's him. Tell him to SHUT UP and STEP OFF! The journey of motherhood is made all the richer when we share it with other moms. One of the most amazing parts of my journey has been the wealth of information and wisdom I've been blessed with when I've reached out to women in my family or girlfriends who have kids or are doting aunts, Grandmothers, and Godmothers. They've been there and are so happy to share their advice and encouragement! 

On a greater scale, when we come together as moms to support each other, we are empowering one another. We are creating a culture that values all life and shows moms in crisis or unexpected pregnancies that there is help and support for them and they are not in this alone. We are creating a culture that tells new moms who are scared or are doubting their abilities as moms, "Hey! YOU are AMAZING and YOU have what it takes! God gave you this incredible body and the wisdom to bring up this baby. He believes in you and I believe in you! We're here to help you!" 

I want to leave you with this amazing quote I read in a beautiful publication by April Oursler Armstrong from the 1960s. She was so brilliant and her message is absolutely relevant now as it was then! 

From: How to Have a Baby, by April Oursler Armstrong

"THE MOST tremendous thing a human being can do is to consecrate the Host at Mass. The next most tremendous thing is to bear a child for baptism. A priest by God's power changes the substance of bread and wine into the flesh and blood and soul and living presence of Christ. But you as a mother, by God's power, change the substance of your own flesh and blood into a child. You are bringing forth a person who will become part of the Mystical Body. That is a sacred and overwhelming task. You honor the nuns, who make altar bread, the artists who create chalices or build churches, altar boys carrying wine and water. Your honor in pregnancy is not different. The child whose heartbeat rests on yours is one day to be transformed spiritually into Christ, to hold His life in the chalice of his own. I think perhaps one reason God did not choose women as His priests is because in motherhood all are priestesses unseen and unsung."

If you'd like to read this phenomenal piece in its entirety, go HERE. It is brilliant, beautiful, and will leave you in awe of our God who has entrusted these precious little souls to US. He believes in YOU. He has chosen YOU to be their mother. Now, you must believe in yourself!